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Defending against sexual harassment allegations in the workplace

As an employer, you understand employees have the right to expect fair and appropriate treatment. New Jersey employees are entitled to a workplace that is free from harassment, including unwanted sexual advances. If allegations of sexual harassment arise, however, what should employers do next?

As a business owner, you understand the importance of protecting the interests of your company while still protecting the rights of your employees. Issues involving supposed sexual harassment incidents are serious, and they are a threat to the legal and financial well-being of your business. There is significant benefit in taking immediate steps to defend your business and handle any type of allegation appropriately.

Are you experiencing harassment?

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment is any type of conduct of a sexual nature that is unwanted or leads to the creation of a hostile, intimidating work environment or is a condition of continued employment. This includes verbal advances and physical contact. There are both state and federal laws that protect employees from this type of behavior.

There are two categories of workplace sexual harassment, quid pro quo and hostile work environment, and your company could face a legal claim due to either type. The differences between these two are as follows:

  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when someone in authority makes advances directed at a subordinate. The victim has to tolerate this treatment as a condition of keeping his or her job.
  • Hostile work environment harassment happens when there is unwanted sexual contact, verbal or physical, and it leads to a work environment that is intimidating or hostile for the victim.

Sexual harassment allegations often lead to civil claims filed against the employer. Sometimes, these types of claims are unfounded, yet they can still cause a significant amount of damage to your company's reputation. Fighting back takes legal skill, an in-depth knowledge of the law and the ability to carefully investigate the entire situation. 

You will find it beneficial to turn to an employment law attorney as soon as possible after learning of a situation involving potential sexual harassment. It's prudent to get started on your defense strategy as soon as possible, working diligently to protect your company's long-term interests and appropriately address this sensitive situation. With the right legal guidance, you can pursue a solution that will allow your company to prosper well into the future. 

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